Blues coach John Kirwan is set to give his most prolific player, captain Jerome Kaino, a break when they head to Christchurch this week.
The Blues, with just 1 win from 9 starts, are 2nd from last on the Combined Log.
However, they have build some great momentum in recent weeks – their maiden season win (16 / 14) over the Brumbies was followed by a close loss (24 / 30) against Highlanders in Dunedin at the weekend.
It was the Blues’ 5th losing bonus point – for finishing within 7 points or less of the opposition – and indication that they are much better than their lowly position on the table suggest.
However, Kirwan won’t be tempted to push the All Black loose forward, Kaino, in another game – despite the desperate need or another win.
He knows they are faced with a massive hurdle in the form of an equally desperate Crusaders team in Christchurch on Saturday.
Blues coach John Kirwan knows his team must beat the Chiefs if they are to have any hope of contending for a play-off spot this season.
The Auckland side have made a horror start to the season, losing all 6 of their matches, and Kirwan knows that they must beat the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday to keep their feint play-off hope alive.
“We knew going in we had to win 1 of these 2 games away to stay in the hunt. We were hoping that was going to come tonight, so that doubles the pressure on next week,” the Blues coach said after the loss to the defending champion Waratahs on Saturday.
The New Zealand media have turned on an iconic All Black in the wake of the Blues’ winless start to the Super Rugby season.
The Blues slumped to their 4th straight loss, a first for the 3-time former champions, after a willing and determined Emirates Lions team edged them 13 / 10 in Albany on Saturday.
The result, which leaves the Blues at the bottom of the Combined Log standings with just 2 losing bonus points to show for their efforts, has sparked calls for coach John Kirwan’s dismissal.
Under the headline ‘Blues lose to Lions, is Kirwan a goner?’ ONE News suggested that you can “hear the blades sharpening in Auckland”.
The Blues’ Super Rugby pre-season training almost ended in disaster on Friday, when close to 30 players had to be fished out of the water by sea rescue.
This happened when a training session in the Hauraki Gulf went wrong, with two waka swamped by waves during a paddle from Takapuna Beach to Rangitoto Island.
The team had been planning to paddle nearly five kilometres across to Rangitoto in the Hauraki Gulf then run to the summit, but the training exercise was cut short.
The team tweeted about the embarrassing outcome of the pre-season trip – which, though unpleasant, did not cause any major problems.
Coach John Kirwan also issued a statement to the New Zealand media, confirming that all team members had escaped unharmed following the scare.
Alastair Kellock will lead the Barbarians against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.
The former Scotland captain takes charge of a cosmopolitan squad, coached by Sir John Kirwan, for the Killik Cup match.
In the starting side are Australia wing Nick Cummins, who lines up against his former team-mates, with New Zealand’s Bledisloe Cup match winner Colin Slade at flyhalf.
The Barbarians completed their squad with the addition of 11 more players including the South African duo of Juan de Jongh and Sarel Pretorius.
The Barbarians are set to take on the Wallabies at Twickenham on 1 November under the guidance of Blues coach John Kirwan.
Of the 11 new players added on Tuesday, the majority (5 of them) are from New Zealand with a further 3 Argentineans and a Scot to go along with the 2 South Africans.
John Kirwan will give his international recruits the opportunity to stake their claim for Test places when the Barbarians take on Australia next month.
The former World Cup winner takes charge of the famous invitation side for the Killik Cup match at Twickenham on 1 November.
Already recruited are Wallabies wing Nick Cummins, former England prop Matt Stevens and a hard-edged group of South African forwards which include CJ Van der Linde, Heinrich Brussow, Coenie Oosthuizen, Thomas du Toit, Jacques Botes and Michael Rhodes.
Eleven legends of New Zealand rugby have been inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame at a special ceremony in Auckland on Friday 21 August, staged the night before a Bledisloe Cup match in Eden Park.
This latest induction represents the incorporation into the IRB Hall of Fame of many of the International Rugby Hall of Fame, which was recently acquired by the IRB and presentations were made by Hall of Fame panel member Don Cameron and New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew. The new inductees are: Fred Allen, Don Clarke, Grant Fox, Sean Fitzpatrick, Michael Jones, Ian Kirkpatrick, John Kirwan, Terry McLean, Colin Meads, Graham Mourie and George Nepia.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The IRB Hall of Fame recognises those who have made an indelible mark on our sport through feats on the field of play, displays of great character or through their tireless and inspirational work in driving forward our great Game.”
Captain Luke Braid headlines a quartet of Blues players who have recommitted to the franchise for the next Super Rugby season.
Braid, fellow flanker Brendon O’Connor and wing Frank Halai have all signed one-year deals with the Blues while halfback Bryn Hall has re-signed until the end of 2016.
The 25-year-old Braid was a consistently high performer this season, despite carrying a shoulder injury for most of the year, and still has high ambitions in New Zealand. “I’m still incredibly motivated to win something with the Blues and continue to try and make the All Blacks,” Braid said.
The Blues are consistent – 10th last year and again this season.
That’s the upshot of winning 13 games and losing 19 in the two seasons John Kirwan has been in charge of a franchise which has flowered intermittently since their last 2003 title success.
It’s almost like the Blues’ failure has been brushed aside because it’s expected, that’s what they do, they are stuck in a cycle of under-achievement.
As most of the New Zealand focus turns to the work of the Crusaders, Highlanders and Chiefs in the playoffs, the Blues will go through their season debriefs and make plans for next year before delivering another version of onwards and upwards rhetoric.
Blues coach Sir John Kirwan believes he has the solution to rugby’s scrum problems and wants changes to be made immediately.
The 63-cap former All Blacks wing wants changes to occur to the scrum law in the middle of the season, in order to solve the issues and thinks that the IRB and SANZAR should work together to ensure the decisions are made.
SANZAR’s referee manager Lyndon Bray has ruled that the Lions were awarded an illegitimate try in the second half of their Super Rugby clash against the Blues at Ellis Park last weekend.
While attempting to score, Lions centre Deon van Rensburg lost the ball when he was tackled by Blues wing Charles Piutau.
Blues coach John Kirwan is going to ask SANZAR for ‘clarity’ on a controversial TMO decision made in his team’s 36-39 loss to the Lions in Johannesburg at the weekend.
While Kirwan conceded the Lions were “deserved winners”, he still felt the need to raise the issue of the TMO decision.
He may have a long way to go, but former Rugby League star Benji Marshall has set his sights on eventually playing for the All Blacks.
The talented new Blues recruit is set to take his first steps on that journey when the Auckland franchise face the Hurricanes in a pre-season friendly this weekend, but he has made it clear that the ultimate goal is to play Test rugby for New Zealand.
Blues coach Sir John Kirwan has revealed that his big name new signing Benji Marshall is likely to wear the No 10 jersey.
Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan has named a 26-man squad that will travel to South Africa for matches against the Sharks and Cheetahs.
The Blues squad will leave for South Africa this Friday in the afternoon as they play the Sharks in Durban on June the 29th before heading to Bloemfontein to face the Cheetahs on July the 6th.
Former All Blacks great John Kirwan has been appointed as Blues coach in Auckland replacing Pat Lam for the next two Super Rugby seasons.
I thought I would start to post titbits picked up during the week, but probably don’t deserve a full article.
Some of the greatest rugby players from around the world will line up at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday 3 December 2011 for the ‘Heroes Rugby Challenge’. The match, which kicks off at 1630 and is supported by J.P. Morgan, aims to raise a substantial sum of money for Help for Heroes, the charity which provides practical support for wounded service men and women.
Argentina coach Santiago Phelan selected his strongest line-up on Tuesday for the World Cup warm-up match with Wales on Saturday.
Wales however, have made 9 changes to the side which beat England on the weekend.
Wales (6) 19 / England (6) 9 (Final Score)
Wales hosted England at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff at 15:30 SA Time. This was the match thread for discussion of the game. The match was broadcast live on SuperSport 6 on TV in SA.
Toulouse scrapped their way to an 18th French league crown on Saturday, justifying by a whisker their favourites’ tag to edge underdogs Montpellier 15-10 at the Stade de France in the Top 14 final.
We can look forward to the following rugby on TV this weekend in SA:
The following Rugby is on TV in SA from Friday morning 25 February till Sunday 27 February 2011. Remember to do your SuperBru picks on time!
France coach Marc Lievremont has dropped scrumhalf Morgan Parra to the bench and promoted Dimitri Yachvili in one of six changes to the team to face England at Twickenham.
Tonight, Friday 4 February 2011, sees the start of the Six Nations Tournament, featuring the strongest 6 European Nations.
First up is Wales vs England at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales at 21:45 SA Time.
Rugby-Talk will cover this match live tonight.
London Irish’s South African prop Faan Rautenbach has been cited for stamping on Munster flanker David Wallace.
The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) have said that they will not negotiate for player release with England’s Premier Rugby Limited but only with England’s Rugby Football Union. This applies to Welsh internationals playing for Premiership clubs in England.
All Blacks lock Ali Williams has been familiarising himself with his new temporary home in England, the Nottingham Rugby Club.
According to the allblacks.com website, Williams, who is recovering from a second Achilles tendon rupture, is to play up to four games for the side as he attempts his recovery ahead of the Super 15 season in New Zealand.